KYNSNA LIVING LOCAL shared their story at the 2014 International Aboriginal Tourism Conference in Whistler BC Canada. Knysna is located in the middle of South Africa’s famous Garden Route and is blessed with a natural environment of ecologically diverse vegetation, lagoons and lakes. It is not surprising therefore that the tourism industry is recognised by the Knysna Local Municipality as the critical foundation on which the local economy is built.
The key tourism asset of natural environment is complemented by a rich mix of cultures including Khoi-San, Griqua, Attaqua, Outeniqua, Xhosa, Italian, French, Dutch, Norwegian and German Heritage, as well as a Rastafarian culture.
The recorded history of the Khoi-San people stem back to around 2300 BP (Before Present), when hunter-gatherers called the San acquired domestic stock in what is now modern day Botswana. Their population grew, and spread throughout the Western half of South Africa. They were the first pastoralists in southern Africa, and called themselves Khoikhoi (or Khoe), which means ‘men of men’ or ‘the real people’. This name was chosen to show pride in their past and culture. The Khoikhoi brought a new way of life to South Africa and were the first native people to come into contact with the Dutch settlers in the mid-17th century.
The Knysna municipal tourism office, Knysna Tourism, has been working closely with Knysna communities to enable greater visitor engagement in local cultural experiences.
Knysna Living Local is the collective name for a range of community experiences within the Greater Knysna Area comprising homestays, township tours, community centres and community restaurants.
The Knysna cultural experiences offer visitors the opportunity to engage with a variety of cultures. Visitors are encouraged to stay at least 2-3 days so that they can experience a township tour, stay in a homestay, cook and taste traditional food at a community restaurant and also experience other marine and forest experiences.
The cultural content of Knysna Living Local was further developed to include Green Chefs – a local culinary experience where local people use home-grown ingredients and traditional recipes, and also locally produced arts and crafts under the corporate banner: Handmade Knysna.